If this week’s Let Us Nerd stats tell me anything, it’s that there are quite a few nerds out there hungry for a few words about this week’s release of DC’s Batman #16.
Well, here’s a couple words for you right off the bat:
Here’s a few more: SPOILERS FOLLOW! Tread lightly if you haven’t already read the amazing issue.
When we left Batman at the end of issue #15, he was on his way into Arkham Asylum to face Joker head-on. His goal was to catch Joker off his guard, disrupting him before he could get all of his tricks and treats in place. But, as we all know, the Joker is pretty much always prepared. He’s always got some sort of plan for chaos in place, and as hard as Batman can try, he may never catch Joker off his guard.
It’s no surprise to find that Joker is almost completely prepared for Batman’s arrival, regardless of how early it might be. When Batman first enters, he finds the first of many horrors to meet him: dancing couples, each dressed like Batman and Joker. They are prison guards who have been dressed, locked up and made to dance for days on end. The kicker is that they are standing in water, waiting to be electrocuted, but Batman takes care of that pretty quickly and whisks off to the shadows to find Joker.
He’s met instead with a flaming horse and hundreds of knights in shining armor. When the knights attack, Batman puts them all away pretty readily. Then Batman does on the coolest things I’ve seen him do in his 70 years as a DC character.
Batman punches a horse in the forehead, sending the rider flying through the air. He then commandeers the horse and rides on, stopping briefly to took a look at one of Joker’s presents, a sickly, disturbing tapestry made of living flesh. I’m not including a picture of that one. You’ll just have to pick up an issue to take a look. Trust me, it’s worth it.
Batman continues storming the castle, meeting old foes along the way. He meets Mr. Freeze (who adds insult to injury by freezing the horse that Batman is riding), Clayface (who gets a taste of Freeze’s stolen gun) and Scarecrow (who gets a mouthful of Batfist.) Finally, Bats finds the door separating him from Joker and rigs it with plastic explosives, blowing it off the hinges. He pops his head in to find Joker next to a throne prepared for just for Batman.
Throw in about a half dozen more cameos (implied or otherwise) and you have what Joker consider’s King Batman’s Royal Court.
It’s now that we begin to see the depth of decay of Joker’s face. Every shot shows his face spiraled by flies and bugs of all sorts, looking for crusty, dying crevices to deposit their young.
The rest of the issue is filled with Joker yelling at Batman to play his game by his rules, that that’s the only way to know where any member of the Bat-family is. Either Batman sits in his throne, or he’ll die never knowing where any small piece of any member of the Bat-family is.
So, Batman does the only thing he can do…
he sits on his throne.
Want to take a stab at what happens next? Well, that pun may be misleading. The real answer may… shock you. ::Cue the overbearing Joker laughter:: Tack onto that a back-up in which Joker imprisons his cohorts in a very Ben Franklin, “we all hang together, or surely we will all hang separately” moment and whips out a silver-domed platter that brings Pulp Fiction to mind. Joker shows his fellow baddies what’s under the dome, and we get to see their reactions, but not what’s on the platter.
Hopefully, it’ll stay much more Pulp Fiction and not prove to be more Se7en, if you catch my drift. And if you haven’t seen Se7en, sorry. Do yourself a favor and find it. It’s got to be on Netflix.
I was in my local comic shop, Comic Paradise Plus, the other day while another customer was doing some pull list maintenance. He made the decision to cut Batman from his pull list. He’ll miss all the heart-pounding excitement, all the gut-wrenching intensity, all the amazingly dark, twisted turns of Scott Snyder’s crisp, tight writing. He’ll miss all the dark, beautiful, visceral, demented artwork of Greg Capullo. He’ll miss the rest of the “Death of the Family” story arc and the ensuing stories of any and all the surviving members of Joker’s escapades.
Don’t be this guy, but don’t hold it against him. He knows not what he does.
Regardless, I’ll be here for issue #17 and all the rest, and it’ll be my pleasure to keep you up-to-date on everything Snyder and Capullo can throw at your friendly neighborhood Batman. That is… if he can make it out of this one alive….